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Dartmouth College Names Ethnic Korean as President

Posted March. 04, 2009 07:43,   


“Korean students should now have the heart to help and take care of those in need, rather than just studying hard to enter prestigious schools.”

Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American professor at Harvard Medical School, said this yesterday in a phone interview with Korean news correspondents in New York soon after Dartmouth College named him president.

Kim is the first person of Asian descent to lead an Ivy League school.

Saying he was offered the position around 10 days ago, he said he was “very honored and humbled” to take the role and become a person representing the ethnic Korean community in the United States.

Dartmouth had been seeking to elect a new president from some 400 candidates since June last year after James Wright offered to retire.

Immigrating to the United States at age five, Kim grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, where there were just two Asian families.

He went on to graduate magna cum laude from Brown University in 1982 and later earned a medical degree and a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard. He then taught at Harvard for more than 20 years.

Rather than just being a scholar, he is internationally acknowledged for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases in developing countries. In 2004, he was appointed head of the World Health Organization’s first major effort to promote the treatment of AIDS patients.

In 2005, U.S. News and World Report selected him one of the top 25 U.S. leaders and Time named him one of the “100 most influential” people who changed the world.

On his fight against disease, Kim said he wants to teach the next generation of people who will exert more influence in resolving the problems.

In a speech to Dartmouth, he said the honor belonged to his parents more than anyone else. “My father, who was a dentist, one of the most substantial professions, taught me the virtue of diligence, while my mother, who studied philosophy, taught me how to treat other people with respect.”

Kim told The Dong-A Ilbo in May 2006, “Korea is too parsimonious about providing medical aid to underdeveloped countries. Now that the Korean economy has grown large, I hope Koreans turn their attention to making the world a better place to live in.”